Friday, 29 June 2007

Five fast pitches at Servoz

A quick blast at Servoz after work was the order of the day. Chris and I met up in Les Houches and drove down to the crag with the express intention of doing a swift few pitches then returning to the farmhouse for a spot of dinner. I'd managed to grab a few bits for a pasta/meat/vegetable festival earlier in the day so we could come straight back after climbing and get some nosh on.

There were only 3 ropes (6 people) on the entire crag (including us) and so we had plenty of room to do an easy warm-up pitch that Chris nicely led ("Sur prise", 4b) that led us up to the first anchor. We sorted out the rope from our ledge then I led up the second pitch, another (shorter) 4b up to the second anchor. We were both moving nice and fluidly by this point. After belaying Chris up to join me on the second anchor, we organised ourselves again and I led up the final pitch through a very slightly overhanging airy chimney and up to the top of the crag. Aside from getting my pack caught entering the chimney via the base corner I was really happy to lead the final 5b pitch and felt surprisingly solid the whole way.

The abseil down definately promoted a more heightened atmosphere. With the tip of a flake of rock down the side of the chmney the only purchase and a large overhang on the other side, I felt my pulse quicken a bit but took it slow and easy and came down to our first anchor point nice and safely. Unfortunately Chris' foot slipped on the wet rock soon after he started to come down and he banged intot he rock to get a rather nasty looking graze on his left wrist. This obviously affected him a bit as he then had another slip and banged his elbow. Nothing too serious but I felt sorry for him as it obviously stung!

The last abseil went without any hitches and we had a look around for another pitch or two that would interest us. Chris fancied an interesting 6a pitch that we've done a couple of times before - a vertical start leading to an overhang that requires a bit of strength to get over. He sailed up the vertical then heaved over the overhang, clipped into the anchor then came down. I top-roped the pitch and was really pleased (and slightly amazed) to get over the overhang with such ease and with no fuss. Really solid technique - thanks to Lousie and Brian for their info and guidance on previous trips!

For the last pitch I suggested we did our first ever pitch we did together at Servoz ("Le diedre du facteur", 5b). When we first attempted it neither of us could get past the overhang that a small tree sits on right below the anchor point. I led and felt I was climbing smoothly and fluidly and took one look at the overhang and then rather gracefully (if I do say so myself!) climbed over and past it to clip in. I came down then belayed Chris who top-roped it and did likewise. It really hit home just how much better we are climbing these days. The pitch wasn't even a minor stretch today but I remember not so long ago sweating profusely and fighting with all my strength just to fail! It felt extremely good (with my new climbing shoes) to move fluidly up and over the crux of the pitch.

We found it interesting that Chris and I compliment each other greatly with the climbing. We're both strong at totally different types of climbing which means you get to lead where you're best and when we're on the rock I don't mind sorting out ropes and anchors and whatnot standing on a ledge but don't care for it much at the bottom. Chris is the the opposite not minding to sort out the rope at the bottom but not particularly enjoying it half-way up!

So after a climb and a spot of dinner washed down with squash (aside from a party the other night at Louise's am still not drinking) it's time to settle down in this quiet farmhouse to watch a dvd with alpine cow bells tinkling away in the background.